8 Years

black retriever in colorful bandana a guide harness smiles in the woods

When I think back to how much life has changed in 8 years, I think ‘where has time gone?!’  I’ve been lucky and privileged enough to share the past 8 years with Tom.  And hopefully will get to share may more to come.  He’s gone a bit grey about the muzzle the past year or so, just adds to his distinguished air I think.  Hard to believe he’s already 9.5years old, and we’ve been a team for 8 of those years.  Such an amazing dog and guide.  Intelligent, caring and oh so opinionated.  Words cannot express how much I love this guy.

black retriever guide dog sits on a train platform

The partnership between guide dog and handler is one that I’ve grasped few understand.     This past year especially as I spend more time in the city, surrounded by well intentioned strangers, I’m reminded how foreign the idea of trusting a dog in this way is to so many.  “Watch out!  There’s a curb”. Yea, I know, he told me.  “There’s stairs right there!”  Yea, I know, he told me.  “You’re going to walk off the train platform!”  No, I’m not, I know exactly where the edge is and where I am, my dog told me.  “You have the light, it’s safe to cross.”  No it’s not, he’s hesitating, I’ll wait…as a car turns right on red through the intersection.

black retriever guide dog leads handler down a brick sidewalk

When you’re visually impaired and you’ve been together communicating on such an intimate level as Tom and I have for so many years, you learn to trust and you learn to believe what subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) cues your dog is giving to tell you what’s going on.  And it’s intensely freeing.  I understand folks (often misplaced, sometimes dangerous) well intentions.  But I’ll stick to trusting my guide dog and our partnership, and be grateful it’s a job Tom loves and excels at and keep my fingers crossed that remains for as long as possible into the future.

Want to support guide dog partnerships?  Check out the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, amazing dogs like Tom wouldn’t be possible with out the generous support of folks like you!


8 thoughts on “8 Years

  1. Gracie’s breeder and trainer also trains service dogs, and I’ve watched her work with one (who will be going to his person in a couple weeks) through this year. Huge amount of work, but what amazing things these dogs can do!

  2. distinguished and adorable! and I think you’re right, without having lived with a particular disability, it is impossible to understand… at least all those people telling you when to stop and when to go are well-intentioned.

    1. well intentioned and yet as a friend recently reminded me, “help is the sunny side of control” which is often apt in such situations I find

      1. I knew even as I typed it, that my comment was missing the point a bit. I think what I should’ve noted is that at least it isn’t hateful, which a lot of discrimination is.

  3. He’s absolutely adorable! I know it’s a sensitive topic and one that (as a fellow SD user) I hate to talk about… no plans for retirement yet?

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting Angela! Knock on wood, he’s doing well, happy, healthy, wanting to keep shoving his head in the harness and as speedy and on the ball as he ever was, so the plan is to keep doing that as long as he wants and is able.

Leave a Reply